The Crew will face the Philadelphia Union for the first time in 2013 on Saturday. The three meetings between the two sides last season provided plenty of drama and fireworks as the Black & Gold won two of the three matches.
Last year's series began in Philadelphia in a nationally televised clash on NBC Sports Network. An unfortunate handball from Eric Gehrig in the area led to a Union penalty. Gabriel Gómez converted from the spot for the match's only tally to lift the home side to victory. Eddie Gaven, Chad Marshall and Andy Gruenebaum are the only holdovers from the starting XI in last year's tilt expected to be in the lineup on Saturday.
In a return to PPL Park, defender Carlos Valdes put the Union ahead in the first half when his free kick took a deflection off the Crew wall to beat Matt Lampson in goal. Josh Williams equalized with his first career goal just before halftime. Later in the second half, the defender was sent off after an altercation with Union forward Antoine Hoppenot to leave the Black & Gold with 10 men for the final 22 minutes of the match. After fending off a flurry of Philadelphia attempts on goal in the late moments of the game, newcomer Federico Higuaín orchestrated an attack that ended with Eddie Gaven burying Justin Meram's final pass into an empty net in the 95th minute to earn the Crew three points on the road.
A month following Gaven's stoppage time heroics, the two clubs met at Crew Stadium in a late September goal fest. Jairo Arrieta netted a brace to give the Black & Gold a 2-0 cushion after 50 minutes. The Union battled back, as Hoppenot drew a penalty in the 65th minute that Danny Cruz converted to cut the deficit in half. Later in the 86th minute, Jack McInerney equalized on a one-touch tally from a Roger Torres cross. Just a minute later, Milovan Mirosevic netted the late winner to keep the Crew's playoff hopes alive heading into October. The winning tally was shrouded in controversy as Mirosevic appeared to be offside, but the linesman's flag remained down.
Finding Frankie Hejduk around Columbus just became that much easier.
The Crew legend and Brand Ambassador will be driving a custom Crew Camaro provided Coughlin Cars around town for the next few months. Stay tuned to TheCrew.com for details on how you can win Frankie's ride.
Fresh off Tuesday night's 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Costa Rica and Jamaica, Crew striker Jairo Arrieta returned to training with the Crew Thursday morning in Obetz. Though Arrieta was not featureed in La Sele's 2-0 win over the Reggae Boyz or in last Friday's 1-0 loss to the United States, Arrieta was proud to represent his country in an effort to qualify for soccer's biggest stage.
With one goal in three matches so far this season, Arrieta knows he must continue to produce for the Black & Gold to earn a call-up for Costa Rica's next Qualifiers in June.
"It's an honor for me to be playing for my National Team, but the only way I can play with the National Team is by performing with the Crew," the striker said through a translator. "I'm focused on doing a great job with the Crew, that way I have the opportunity to be called-up again."
In addition to the World Cup Qualifiers in June, Arrieta could miss time with Crew for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. Arrieta helped Costa Rica clinch a berth in the tournament by earning the Golden Boot in the Copa Centroamericana in January.
"I know I will play in qualifying games in the near future," Arrieta said.
"The only way I'll have that chance is if my performance with the Crew is better and better every game."
Major League Soccer released its annual player world map, and results boasts players born in 61 different countries.
Crew include international players from Argentina (F. Higuain & M. Sanchez), Brazil (Glauber), Cameroon (T. Tchani), Canada (Beckie), Costa Rica (J. Arrieta), Ghana (D. Oduro), Poland (K. Warzycha) Trinadad & Tobago (K. Geroge), Venezula (B. Anor).
The United States will face a tall challenge in Turkey this summer as the draw for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup was held on Monday. The U.S. has been placed in Group A with European powers Spain and France, along with a yet to be determined African nation.
"We're welcome to any challenge," U.S. U-20s Assistant Coach and Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss said Monday. "It's obviously a very strong group with those two European teams. Whatever African team makes it, you know they're going to be good. Historically, [African nations] have been very good at the youth World Cup level."
Bliss and Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp will head to Turkey in June, hoping to make an impact on the world stage.
"When you get to the World Cup, there are 24 teams and everybody is good," Bliss said. "It looks like a very difficult group, but we finished strong in CONCACAF and I think that will give us confidence heading into [the World Cup].
"I won't say I like our chances better than anybody, but I don't fear any of those teams for any reason."
The U.S. will hold a camp in April to reassess talent ahead of the tournament this summer.
After two rounds of play in the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament, the Crew Bracket Challenge is tightly contested. Wil Trapp leads Drew Beckie by three points with 118 points, while Aaron Schoenfeld sits just three points behind Beckie. Eric Gehrig trails his teammates after picking up just 104 points in the first two rounds.
To no one's surprise, the West region of the bracket gave everyone trouble. However, Ohio State Final Four hopes are still alive as three players picked the Buckeyes to advance. Beckie chose Gonzaga to win the region and dance all the way to Atlanta.
- Wil Trapp - 118 pts.
- Drew Beckie -114
- Aaron Schoenfeld - 111
- Eric Gehrig - 104
The Scoring System:
- 3 points for each team correctly picked to advance to the Round of 32.
- 5 points for each team picked in the Sweet 16.
- 10 points for each team in the Elite 8.
- 25 points for each team in the Final 4.
- 50 points for each team in the National Championship.
- 100 points for correctly picking the National Champion.
With Bill Hamid coming off MLS Player of the Week honors, the Crew knew it would be tough to beat the 22-year-old D.C. United goalkeeper in Saturday's match at RFK Stadium. As expected, Hamid made several acrobatic saves to keep United in the game as the Black & Gold peppered him with nine shots on goal throughout the afternoon.
Not to be outdone, Crew backstop Andy Gruenebaum fed off Hamid's play on the other end of the field to make several key stops to help the Crew to the 2-1 victory away from home.
"[Hamid] played out of his mind again," Gruenebaum said after the match. "He’s had a couple back-to-back games where he’s just feeling it and right now he’s on fire.
"Anytime you see someone on the other end make a great save it, you hope – I mean, you obviously don’t want to have to be in that position, but when it happens you hope to be there and it was an interesting game. It was probably one of the weirdest games I’ve ever played in.”
Added Head Coach Robert Warzycha: "[Hamid] did very well on Chad [Marshall]'s save, and following with Tyson Wahl. I think the second half, the goalies did a very good job. They did what they were supposed to do. They made some saves and there were some clear chances, but they stood on their heads and they were very, very good.”
Perhaps the top highlight of Saturday afternoon was Gruenebaum's back-to-back-to-back saves from Lionard Pajoy, Brandon McDonald and Dwayne De Rosario attempts that NBC Sports broadcaster Arlo White could only describe as "a miracle."
The humble Gruenebaum claims some luck was involved.
“It was a shot through traffic from the top, I didn’t see it until the end so I wasn’t able to hold it clean, but I just saw [De Rosario] there wide open so I just got up and just tried to make myself big.
"I kind of got lucky there.”
Sitting at his perch on the touchline between Robert Warzycha and Ben Olsen for Saturday's broadcast on NBC Sports Network, former Crew midfielder and TV analyst Kyle Martino knows a thing or two about the Crew vs. D.C. United rivalry. Drafted by the Black & Gold in 2002, and winning the League's Rookie of the Year award that season, Martino played five seasons in Columbus to get his fill of the original MLS rivalry.
"It's funny. Statistically, the Crew has done pretty well in this rivalry, but that's not how I remember it," Martino recalled. "I remember coming to RFK [Stadium] and always getting our butts handed to us. It's funny, I was talking to Ben Olsen yesterday and we were sort of reminiscing about the past. We always called RFK the parking lot because the field was always hard as a parking lot.
Martino continued: "We would always come out and the Ben Olsens, the Marco Etcheverrys, the Christian Gómezes and just running in circles. I remember looking over at Brian Maisonneuve a couple times, with our tongues hanging out, and just saying 'How do we get this ball and how do we get into this game?' This was always a tough place to come."
Martino's favorite rivalry memory concerning the Crew and D.C. United includes a chance swap of cleats with a future hero for the Black & Gold.
"My favorite memory of the rivalry is when I showed up one time and I'd forgotten to put my cleats in the cleat bag. I was in the locker room beforehand and I didn't have any cleats, and I'm like 'Oh my god, what am I going to do?'"
He continued: "I remembered from the U.S. National Team that [then-D.C. United midfielder] Brian Carroll and I had the same size shoe. I had someone go over the to the D.C. locker room and ask Brian Carroll if I could borrow a pair of his cleats. In that game, Brian and I went against each other. He was playing against me in the center of midfield and I was wearing his cleats, which I thought was hilarious."
While Martino recalls his time with the Crew fondly, he does not see things going the Black & Gold's way on Saturday.
"My prediction is a D.C. win," he boldly stated. "I think D.C. kind of got their bell rung in New York last week and they've turned this place into a fortress. I think the Crew performed really well in LA and Vancouver. There are some real bright spots in the team. The home tie [against San Jose] was a bit of a disappointment to them, so they're going to be pumped and ready to go today. But I think this is a return to the RFK that I remember, which is a place you don't come and steal points easily."
Martino and Arlo White will have the call on NBC Sports Network. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.
The Black & Gold will kick off its 2013 Reserve League campaign on Tuesday. The back-to-back reserve champions will host the Chicago Fire at the Crew Training Facility at Obetz on Tuesday, March 26 10:00 a.m. ET. The match is open to the public and admission is free.
**UPDATE** Match moved to the Crew Training Facility at Obetz located at 4153 Alum Creek Dr. Obetz, OH 43207
Click here for the 2013 Reserve League schedule.
Following the announcement from U.S. Soccer that Columbus Crew Stadium will host the USA vs. Mexico 2014 World Cup Qualifier on September 10, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman expressed his sentiments on the fixture’s positive impact on the city of Columbus.
"This is fantastic news for our soccer fans and for our entire community,” Mayor Coleman said. “This will not only be an exciting soccer match, but an outstanding opportunity to showcase the City of Columbus to the entire world.”